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Vantage View Box Culvert Wing Wall

Working with a tight schedule, a waterlogged jobsite, and its customer’s aesthetic requirements, HS Construction & Excavating finds the perfect solution in a wing wall constructed from Stone Strong modular blocks.
City Uses Stone Strong Retaining Wall to Save Time, Money, and Hassle

When the City of Morristown, Tenn., needed a fast answer to an escalating flood control issue, there were a number of different materials it could have used to solve the problem. But the city didn’t want to just pull together any old solution—it wanted a robust, long-lasting answer that not only served its functional purpose, but that would also be aesthetically pleasing.

“The city was experiencing flooding of an existing roadway in Morristown, where a creek was continually overflowing and causing traffic issues and other concerns,” said Dewayne Hicks, project manager with HS Construction and Excavating, LLC, in Knoxville. “The solution was to raise the flood plain in order to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards.”

For the flood control project, HS Construction was called upon to build a new bridge using a box culvert system manufactured by C.R. Barger & Sons, Inc., of Lenoir City, Tenn. The contractor also installed wing walls on each corner of the bridge. For the latter, the original plan was to use a standard Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) cast-in-place wing wall, but Hicks recognized a better solution and brought it to the city’s attention.

“We felt that a Stone Strong retaining wall made from precast concrete would not only be a better and faster option, but that it would also look much better once it was in place and completed,” said Hicks, who worked with C.R. Barger & Sons, a licensed Stone Strong retaining wall block manufacturer, to come up with the solution.

Hicks said his firm proposed the Stone Strong option to TDOT’s design engineers, who, in turn, agreed that the wall and box culvert system met state specifications. That paved the way for Stone Strong to replace the department’s traditional form-and-pour concrete system. “And with that thumbs up,” said Hicks, “we were able to start using the precast products both for the box culvert and for the wing walls.”
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We felt that a Stone Strong retaining wall made from precast concrete would not only be a better and faster option, but that it would also look much better once it was in place and completed.
Dewayne Hicks, project manager with HS Construction
Stone Strong is the Answer
Stone Strong delivers fully and intelligently engineered retaining wall solutions that greatly reduce installation time and labor costs – with unmatched safety, durability, and aesthetics. For example, the stones can be stained to match any color imaginable–so it can fit seamlessly into a project owner’s design and the natural surroundings of the landscape.

A large, engineered, precast concrete retaining wall block that increases gravity wall height (with no tiebacks or geogrids), Stone Strong installs easily and quickly (resulting in schedule and labor savings), and incorporates a built-in void for internal drainage. Stone Strong retaining wall block is used frequently on landscaping and residential projects, commercial projects, box culvert wing walls, bridge abutments, bank stabilization, pond border walls, roadway expansion projects, and many other applications. The wall blocks are a natural choice where other block types have failed and serve as a very competitive retaining wall option, especially when the finished wall cost is compared.

While the City of Morristown selected Stone Strong primarily for its aesthetic appeal, Hicks said the overall project also benefitted from the product’s speed of installation. “We were able to get everything installed much faster than if we had used standard cast-in-place methods,” said Hicks. “The product and the application worked out very well, everything went smoothly, and the city was very happy overall with the end result—which was much better looking than just a standard concrete wing wall.”

The double-barrel (or, double-run) box culvert not only had to be easy on the eyes, but it also had to be constructed and installed quickly, and economical. C.R. Barger and Sons recommended its Stone Strong retaining wall block, which can be “stacked” into a variety of shapes and sizes to create a full-blown wing wall. The modular block system was a much better alternative than most other options. Using regular precast concrete pieces, for example, would have required a huge crane, very large/bulky products, and extensive excavation work. Instead, the smaller, 6000-pound Stone Strong modular units were simply stacked one on top of each other to create the wall.

Beating the Weather and a Tight Schedule
To manufacture the city’s new wing wall and box culvert package, C.R. Barger & Sons used wing walls designed to TDOT standards and constructed of Stone Strong 6SF, 3SF, and end blocks. In total, the Vantage View wing walls encompassed 360 square feet of Stone Strong block. When finished, the box culvert—which is 12-foot X 7-foot in size—was built with right and left side wing walls on both of its ends.

Kelly Barger, C.R. Barger & Sons’ sales and customer development manager, said the precaster had worked successfully with Hicks in the past, but not on projects involving Stone Strong. On this particular project, however, Hicks recognized a real advantage to using the block, namely because of the tight schedule that his firm was working with. “In many cases, wing walls require water applications,” Barger explained. “That creates a very tight schedule, thanks to the fact that you either have to divert water flow or try to work only when the weather is dry and accommodating.”

In some cases, specifiers and engineers revert to poured-in-place concrete options for these types of projects, but Hicks knew there was a faster and more efficient way to get the job done right. “The Stone Strong allowed him to work through any weather conditions without having to worry about delays,” said Barger. “He was able to immediately unload our product and set it in place, rather than having to wait for good weather to build a poured-in-place concrete wing wall.”

Up and Running in One Day
Barger said manufacturing the Stone Strong blocks was fairly straightforward for the precaster, which made a combination of small and large blocks for the project. The wing wall itself was constructed from the larger pieces, while the smaller ones were used on either end of the box culvert.

“We were able to get everything made quickly and within specifications to meet the contractor’s tight timeline,” said Barger, whose firm served as a “one stop shop” for the entire solution. “Because Dewayne was able to use both our box culvert and our wing wall product, he didn’t have to work with multiple suppliers. We built and delivered the entire package from start to finish.”

Hicks said using Stone Strong saved the contractor a lot of time on the jobsite, where the underlying creek added complexities to the project. “Using Stone Strong saved us a lot of time. We were working in a creek and very susceptible to the weather and the water itself,” said Hicks, whose firm also saved money in the process.

“By using the precast block system, we didn’t have to pump the creek down, do the excavation work, and then form and pour the materials,” said Hicks, “all of which would have taken at least a few days. Instead, we got the entire wall built in one day.”

A Main Selling Point
Calling Stone Strong’s aesthetic, granite-faced exterior a “main selling point” for the City of Morristown, Hicks said the end result was a beautiful product with a finish that doesn’t just look like “smooth” concrete. “That’s what you’re used to seeing on these types of walls, but the Stone Strong actually looks more like landscape wall; it looks so much better because of that,” said Hicks. “The city was especially pleased that it didn’t cost any more to use this option over the standard product.”

Hicks said the city is happy with the end result, and that his firm—which hadn’t worked with the precast block system in the past—will likely use Stone Strong again on future projects. “The project went very smoothly and everyone was really pleased with how well it turned out,” said Hicks. “The wall not only serves a functional purpose by keeping the creek water where it’s supposed to be, but it also looks great and blends well with the surrounding community.”

Now, Hicks said he’s looking at a few new projects that are in HS Construction’s pipeline, to see if the modular block precast system can be incorporated into those applications. “We enjoyed working with it and we would certainly recommend it on these types of projects,” said Hicks. “The simplicity of the Stone Strong design and installation really minimized our time which essentially translates into cost savings—something we always appreciate.”